Everything you need to know about the AL East
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The East has represented the American League in the World Series in two of the last three years. That theme could continue in 2021 as the division boasts three clubs projected to win at least 85 games. Here's a rundown of each team heading into Opening Day:

Baltimore Orioles

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2020 record: 25-35 (4th in AL East)
Payroll: $76.4M
O/U win total: 66
World Series odds: +15000
3-year trend: 2018 (5th); 2019 (5th); 2020 (4th)
Highest projected WAR: John Means (2.0)
X-factor: Trey Mancini
Key injuries: Chris Davis, Hunter Harvey, DJ Stewart
Prospect to watch: Adley Rutschman (MLB.com: No. 2)
Winter report card: C+

Projected Lineup

ORDER PLAYER POS. PROJ. WAR
1 Cedric Mullins (L) CF 0.3
2 Trey Mancini DH 1.2
3 Anthony Santander (S) RF 1.4
4 Ryan Mountcastle 1B 1.3
5 Pedro Severino C 0.3
6 Austin Hays LF 1.3
7 Maikel Franco 3B 0.7
8 Freddy Galvis (S) SS 0.6
9 Ramon Urias 2B 0.0

Bench

PLAYER POS. PROJ. WAR
Chance Sisco (L) C 0.0
Rio Ruiz (L) 3B 1.2
Pat Valaika IF/OF 0.1

Baltimore welcomes Mancini back to anchor what was an underrated offense from a season ago. The Orioles finished 13th in wRC+, 14th in OPS, and 15th in the majors in homers. Mountcastle hit five home runs while posting a 140 OPS+ over 35 games and will be a major building block for the future. Santander is one of baseball's underappreciated sluggers. The 26-year-old slashed .261/.315/.575 with 11 homers and 13 doubles in just 37 games last season.

Projected Rotation

PITCHER PROJ. IP PROJ. ERA
John Means (L) 160 4.77
Matt Harvey 87 5.29
Bruce Zimmerman (L) 100 5.18
Dean Kremer 145 5.04
Jorge Lopez 85 4.96

Bullpen

PITCHER PROJ. IP PROJ. ERA
Cesar Valdez 56 4.55
Tanner Scott (L) 65 3.58
Travis Lakins 48 4.79
Dillon Tate 60 4.49
Paul Fry (L) 58 3.82
Shawn Armstrong 53 4.73
Cole Sulser 44 4.54
Tyler Wells 38 4.67
Mac Sceroler 16 5.40
Adam Plutko 109 5.46

Means has looked like a legitimate frontline starter at times while Kremer is among the club's top pitching prospects. While the team is still rebuilding, it's exciting that the organization will start to see some of its young arms pitch in the majors. This might be Matt Harvey's final chance to be an MLB starter. He struggled this spring and owns a 7.82 ERA over his last two seasons across 71 1/3 innings. The back end of the bullpen will be pieced together with closer Hunter Harvey starting the season on the 60-day injured list.

Boston Red Sox

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2020 record: 24-36 (5th)
Payroll: $204.3M
O/U win total: 80
World Series odds: +7000
3-year trend: 2018 (1st); 2019 (3rd); 2020 (5th)
Highest projected WAR: Xander Bogaerts (4.1)
X-factor: J.D. Martinez
Key injuries: Chris Sale, Ryan Brasier
Prospect to watch: Jarren Duran
Winter report card: B

Projected Lineup

ORDER PLAYER POS. PROJ. WAR
1 Enrique Hernandez 2B 1.2
2 Alex Verdugo (L) CF 2.4
3 J.D. Martinez DH 2.2
4 Xander Bogaerts SS 4.1
5 Rafael Devers (L) 3B 4.1
6 Hunter Renfroe RF 0.6
7 Franchy Cordero LF 0.7
8 Christian Vazquez C 2.6
9 Bobby Dalbec 1B 0.7

Bench

PLAYER POS. PROJ. WAR
Kevin Plawecki C 0.4
Christian Arroyo IF 0.4
Marwin Gonzalez (S) IF/OF 0.5

The Red Sox spent the winter focused on making the roster more versatile by adding multi-position players like Hernandez, Renfroe, and Gonzalez. The outfield no longer contains the Killer Bs, but V-C-R is at least intriguing and possesses enormous power potential. Boston ranked ninth in OPS last season despite Martinez being a non-factor, so there's plenty of optimism that the Red Sox rank near the top in runs in 2021.

Projected Rotation

PITCHER PROJ. IP PROJ. ERA
Nathan Eovaldi 149 4.24
Garrett Richards 122 4.78
Martin Perez (L) 161 5.12
Nick Pivetta 112 5.14
Eduardo Rodriguez (L) 152 4.39

Bullpen

PITCHER PROJ. IP PROJ. ERA
Matt Barnes 58 3.83
Adam Ottavino 66 4.53 
Josh Taylor (L) 42 4.24 
Phillips Valdez 36 4.62 
Hirokazu Sawamura N/A N/A 
Darwinzon Hernandez (L) 53 4.18 
Matt Andriese 63 4.62 
Austin Brice 48 4.79 
Garrett Whitlock 27 4.54

It can't be understated how awful Red Sox pitching was last season. The club ranked 28th in ERA and 30th in both WHIP and opponent's batting average as 12 different pitchers started games despite the shortened schedule. Boston's rotation is now in a much better place with the return of Rodriguez and the additions of Richards and Andriese, as well as some other depth arms. Sale's eventual midseason return should also give the club a jolt.

New York Yankees

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2020 record: 33-27 (2nd)
Payroll: $203.7M
O/U win total: 98
World Series odds: +500
3-year trend: 2018 (2nd); 2019 (1st); 2020 (2nd)
Highest projected WAR: Gerrit Cole (5.2)
X-factor: Corey Kluber
Key injuries: Zack Britton, Luis Severino, Luke Voit, Justin Wilson
Prospect to watch: Deivi Garcia
Winter report card: B

Projected Lineup

ORDER PLAYER POS. PROJ. WAR
1 DJ LeMahieu 2B 3.9
2 Aaron Judge RF 4.2
3 Aaron Hicks (S) CF 2.8
4 Giancarlo Stanton DH 2.3
5 Gleyber Torres SS 3.7
6 Jay Bruce (L) 1B 0.0
7 Gio Urshela 3B 1.9
8 Gary Sanchez C 1.6
9 Clint Frazier LF 1.0

Bench

PLAYER POS. PROJ. WAR
Kyle Higashioka C 0.6
Tyler Wade (L) IF/OF 0.1
Brett Gardner (L) OF 0.7
Mike Tauchman (L) OF 0.1

The Yankees return almost the exact same lineup that finished fourth in runs and fifth in homers and OPS a year ago. This is an elite group, but the same questions remain. Can Judge and Stanton stay on the field after missing more than 300 games combined over the last three seasons? Will Sanchez regain his confidence and become an All-Star again? When this club is healthy, no other team in baseball can reach its ceiling, but the injuries are already piling up.

Projected Rotation

PITCHER PROJ. IP PROJ. ERA
Gerrit Cole 201 3.54
Corey Kluber 156 4.18
Domingo German 105 4.71
Jordan Montgomery (L) 122 4.41
Jameson Taillon 133 4.63

Bullpen

PITCHER PROJ. IP PROJ. ERA
Aroldis Chapman (L) 63 3.09
Chad Green 64 3.75
Darren O'Day 60 4.70
Jonathan Loaisiga 58 3.81
Luis Cessa 50 4.84
Nick Nelson 44 4.55
Michael King 46 4.56
Lucas Luetge (L) 20 4.26

Brian Cashman is rolling the dice with his rotation. Cole was excellent last season but there are a number of question marks otherwise. Kluber and Taillon have made 15 starts over the last two years; Montgomery posted a 5.11 ERA in 10 outings last season; German was suspended for the entire 2020 season. New York will be in good shape if its rotation pitches to its potential, though it seems like a significant gamble for a team trying to win a World Series. A once-terrifying bullpen looks a little less formidable given Ottavino's departure and Britton's injury.

Tampa Bay Rays

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2020 record: 40-20 (1st)
Payroll: $79.9M
O/U win total: 87
World Series odds: +1500
3-year trend: 2018 (3rd); 2019 (2nd); 2020 (1st)
Highest projected WAR: Tyler Glasnow (3.6)
X-factor: Austin Meadows
Key injuries: Brett Phillips, Yonny Chirinos, Nick Anderson, Ji-Man Choi
Prospect to watch: Wander Franco (MLB.com: No. 1)
Winter report card: B-

Projected Lineup

ORDER PLAYER POS. PROJ. WAR
1 Austin Meadows (L) DH 1.3
2 Brandon Lowe (L) 2B 2.7
3 Randy Arozarena LF 2.2
4 Yoshi Tsutsugo (L) 1B 0.8
5 Manuel Margot RF 1.4
6 Joey Wendle (L) 3B 0.9
7 Willy Adames SS 2.4
8 Kevin Kiermaier (L) CF 1.5
9 Mike Zunino C 1.1

Bench

PLAYER POS. PROJ. WAR
Francisco Mejia (S) C 0.4
Yandy Diaz 1B/3B 1.4
Mike Brosseau IF/OF 0.4

Tampa Bay returns the exact same group of position players - with the exception of Mejia - that ranked fourth in stolen bases, sixth in runs and OPS, and seventh in homers. The club will get a full season of Arozarena, who enters with sky-high expectations following an epic postseason run that saw him post a 1.234 OPS in the World Series. A bounce-back season from Meadows would go a long way in helping the Rays repeat as AL champs. The 2019 All-Star hit .205/.296/.371 with 50 strikeouts in 36 games last year.

Projected Rotation

PITCHER PROJ. IP PROJ. ERA
Tyler Glasnow 163 3.55
Ryan Yarbrough (L) 163 4.56
Chris Archer 139 4.25
Rich Hill (L) 106 4.44
Michael Wacha 121 4.69

Bullpen

PITCHER PROJ. IP PROJ. ERA
Pete Fairbanks 64 3.34
Diego Castillo 65 3.48
Ryan Thompson 58 4.19
Chaz Roe 50 4.34
Cody Reed (L) 40 3.62
Andrew Kittredge 24 3.64
Ryan Sherriff (L) 32 4.48
Jeffrey Springs (L) 16 3.88
Collin McHugh 67 4.14

Injuries and significant turnover have the rotation looking much different. Glasnow takes over as the ace. He's been excellent when on the mound, but he's thrown over 100 innings just once in five MLB seasons. Archer is trying to rebuild his career after a miserable stint in Pittsburgh that included shoulder surgery. The 41-year-old Hill remains an effective starter, though there are legitimate concerns over how long he can hold up over a full season. Wacha was awful in eight outings (6.62 ERA, 1.156 WHIP) with the Mets in 2020. Kevin Cash covers innings better than anyone, but he'll have his work cut out for him over a full season. Still, with all the concerns, you can't write off Tampa Bay.

Toronto Blue Jays

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2020 record: 32-28 (3rd)
Payroll: $150.1M
O/U win total: 85
World Series odds: +2000
3-year trend: 2018 (4th); 2019 (4th); 2020 (3rd)
Highest projected WAR: George Springer (3.9)
X-factor: Robbie Ray
Key injuries: Nate Pearson, Thomas Hatch, Kirby Yates
Prospect to watch: Simeon Woods Richardson (MLB.com: No. 87)
Winter report card: A-

Projected Lineup

ORDER PLAYER POS. PROJ. WAR
1 George Springer CF 3.9
2 Marcus Semien 2B 3.1
3 Bo Bichette SS 3.8
4 Teoscar Hernandez RF 0.6
5 Vladimir Guerrero Jr 1B 3.1
6 Lourdes Gurriel Jr. LF 1.4
7 Cavan Biggio (L) 3B 2.5
8 Rowdy Tellez (L) DH 0.7
9 Danny Jansen C 2.0

Bench

PLAYER POS. PROJ. WAR
Alejandro Kirk C 1.4
Joe Panik (L) IF 0.1
Randal Grichuk OF 0.7
Jonathan Davis OF 0.0

The Blue Jays added Semien and Springer to a lineup that scored the third-most runs in the AL last year. Not only will the two premier players boost the offense, but they'll also take the pressure off young stars Bichette, Guerrero, and Biggio. Plus, adding Semien and Springer up the middle upgrades what was a poor defensive club last season. That improved defense should help a pitching staff that projects to be the club's weakness.

Projected Rotation

PITCHER PROJ. IP PROJ. ERA
Hyun Jin Ryu (L) 179 3.96
Ross Stripling 122 4.29
Steven Matz (L) 132 4.54
Tanner Roark 135 5.15
Robbie Ray (L) 163 4.30

Bullpen

PITCHER PROJ. IP PROJ. ERA
Jordan Romano 62 3.96
Rafael Dolis 65 4.11
Tyler Chatwood 81 4.24
Ryan Borucki (L) 56 4.07
David Phelps 58 4.08
Julian Merryweather 53 3.95
Tim Mayza (L) 5 3.89
Trent Thornton 67 4.79

Ryu lived up to lofty expectations a season ago and might be the second-best starter in the AL East. However, much like the rest of the division, the bulk of the rotation comes with significant concerns. Ray, Roark, and Matz are all coming off poor seasons. If the veteran starters are unable to provide the club much value, there are a number of other alternatives in the bullpen or within the system that could slot into the rotation. The front office opted to go with quantity over quality, which may not be the worst approach coming off a shortened season. The lack of top arms in the rotation could hurt the team come playoff time, but that's a problem that can be addressed down the road.

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Everything you need to know about the AL East
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